Dance performance has variety

Josh Coffman

Before the spotlights shone at the Russell H. Miller Theatre Thursday night, the 35 cast members of “An Evening of Dance,” stood together as one.

They swayed; they clapped. They all sang along. Three-dozen dancers became one voice, singing one song – each student telling another to “Lean on Me.”

It was part of the dancers’ warm-up activities for the performance, a showcase of various choreographed dances, held annually by Western’s department of theatre and dance. Four months of hard work finally came together as one two-hour performance, opening to a near full house.

Paris freshman Sarah Conrad, a performer in “An Evening of Dance,” said she felt more tired than nervous before the curtain rose.

“Some of us have been rehearsing since January, before school started,” she said.

Conrad danced in the show’s opening, “Visual Melodies,” a jazz-influenced work in which she and other dancers visually mimicked the music’s sax-and-drum rhythms through dance.

“It’s a love story,” Conrad said.

Allison Gleason, a junior from Franklin, Tenn. performed with Conrad in the routine.

“It’s by far my favorite piece,” Gleason said. “The choreography is so visual.”

Mount Washington junior Brandy Wilkerson began the next piece, “Ambiogirrluity,” choreographed by visiting professional-in-residence Jennifer Tarrazi-Scully. Wilkerson started off in a men’s tank-top and underwear in the piece, struggling to get up and dress into work clothes.

“I was a little nervous about being in the underwear,” Wilkerson said. “The solo is about how hard it is to get out of bed and get ready for work.”

Chris Knutson, a part-time dancer and choreographer from Fort Wayne, Ind., came to Western to watch students perform his piece, “Between a Rock.”

“These kids are so well trained by Stephen (Stone) and Scully,” Knutson said. “It only took two days for them to get it down, then we added some tougher elements.”

The final segment of the show, a piece entitled “Saturday Night,” showed the entire cast performing various disco tunes.

The dancing spilled from the stage and into the audience, as cast members strutted into the aisles and danced along to “YMCA” at the show’s end.

Bowling Green junior Seth Massa, who watched the show opening night, said he liked “Saturday Night” best among the pieces.

“It seemed like they enjoyed themselves the most,” he said. “The first two (pieces) were real interesting, but I’m not sure I understand everything.”

Daniel Shoemake, a freshman from Hendersonville, Tenn. said he also enjoyed “Saturday Night,” but stressed that he applauded the entire show.

“I think it was great,” he said. “It was very well done. The choreographers did a good job.”

Alayna Barton, a sophomore from Hendersonville, Tenn. who also performed in “Visual Melodies,” said she was pleased after the show.

“I think it went really well,” she said. “The audience was very receptive. It makes me want to do it again.”

Co-directors Stephen Stone and Tarrazi-Scully said they were pleased with the dance company’s effort on opening night.

“I think it was a very, very good first show,” Tarrazi-Scully said. “I’m always relieved when the first show’s behind us.”

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